Robotics company Boston Dynamics rose to fame for its Spot robot dog. This state-of-the-art machine was designed to help "industrial players who want to take a sensor where they don't want to send a human." Either because it's dangerous or because it's mind-numbing. "Since its launch, many companies have already used the services of Spot.
Today, NASA is eyeing the Boston Dynamics robot dog. As reported by our colleagues from the Space.com site, the US space agency wants to use an improved version of Spot to explore the caves of Mars. On December 14, 2020, NASA presented the Au-Spot robot which will have to take charge of this perilous mission.
This machine, also known as the “Mars Dog” , was designed by researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
A robot dog with AI and sensors
Spot, the Boston Dynamics robot dog is renowned for its performance. This machine combines "sophisticated software" with "a high performance mechanical design. "With On-Spot, NASA wants to do more. We learn that in addition to the AI, this new robot dog will be equipped with sensors.
These sensors will allow Au-Spot to avoid obstacles, choose between several paths and build virtual maps of the tunnels and underground caves on Mars. There are many advantages to using this robot dog. Unlike traditional rovers which can only evolve on flat surfaces, it can venture over rougher terrain and even descend underground. It is also lighter.
Read also: We should be able to create fuel on Mars
Au-Spot is not afraid of falls
What's more, Au-Spot has robotic legs that allow it to walk over stones and bend over to enter underground caves. Despite its performance, this robot dog is not immune to accidents. The fact of evolving on uneven grounds can for example cause falls.
Despite this, the researchers want to be reassuring. According to them, Au-Spot is able to get up quickly.
“Falling does not mean failure of the mission. Thanks to recovery algorithms, the robot can recover from a multitude of falls, ” they said.
Tests of this robot dog have revealed that it is capable of moving at 5 km / h.